July 20, 2019 | 85° F

Lautenberg elected to fifth term in landslide win

Photo by Jeff Lazaro |

Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, center, delivers his victory speech last night at the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center in downtown'New Brunswick.

The Heldrich Hotel in downtown New Brunswick transformed into the Democratic headquarters for New Jersey last night as party supporters could be heard chanting, "Yes we can!" throughout the night.

New Jersey Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, mayor of Newark Cory A. Booker, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Sen. Robert Menendez and Gov. Jon S. Corzine were all in attendance at the Democratic headquarters, also turning out to celebrate senior Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg's win in the Senate race.

Lautenberg destroyed Republican challenger Dick Zimmer, with a victory of 55 percent to his opponent's 43 percent.

In his acceptance speech, Lautenberg said the Democrats will work to turn around the economic tide and make healthcare coverage affordable and available to everyone.

"Tonight is not simply a victory for me, it's a victory for America, and a victory for the people of New Jersey," Lautenberg said. "This country is demanding a drastic change from the last eight years. George Bush, your lease on the White House is over."

"I'm so happy to be here in this historic moment," said Jennifer Kolarsick, a volunteer for the Obama campaign.

Corzine emphasized Lautenberg's record in the Senate as the first United States senator to be elected five times.

"We celebrate a victory for the families of New Jersey who have been left behind by the politics of the Bush administration and people in Washington who have not served us," Corzine said. "Tonight it is right."

With two large television screens projecting CNN and NJN, the Democrats eagerly waited to hear the results of the presidential election come in one by one around the nation, and erupted into a cheer when CNN announced Obama won the popular vote in Ohio.

Menendez said a new day was dawning in America and that Lautenberg's overwhelming re-election was historic.

Lautenberg said he got $13 billion to turn Amtrak into a more up-to-date railroad system and fix up existing train stations. He also said he co-authored a new G.I. Bill for the 21st century.

"Lautenberg was re-elected because he is going to stand up for New Jersey," Menendez said. "He didn't earn those victories because of his opponents being weak, he earned those victories because his records, his accomplishments and his visions are strong."

Lautenberg said, "[My opponents] talked about age when nobody gave a damn about age, it was effectiveness that people were looking at, and that's what they saw in me."

Lautenberg said there is currently a detachment between the presidential administration, the Senate and the House. He is excited to be working with Obama and that he knew Obama was able to electrify the country when the race first kicked off in Iowa.

"Now it's going to be exciting to serve with a man with intelligence, vision," Lautenberg said.

When asked how the current economic crisis will affect how the state approaches college funding, Lautenberg said they will continue to reduce interest rates on loans and make scholarships more available.

"When we have someone who's educated, it's an asset for the country, not just for the individual," Lautenberg said.

Lautenberg's Press Secretary Michael Pagan said throughout the campaign they tried to reach the voter any way they could by knocking on doors, and spending money on television, radio and newspaper advertisements.

"You never have anything in the bag, you're confident but you're cautious you have to follow every step," Pagan said.

Christopher Pflaum, the webmaster for the RU Democrats, said in the rush of the "Obama-Rama mania," Lautenberg's speech worked very well and touched on his values, stressing how important his grandchildren are to him.

"He's almost a grandfather for all the democrats in New Jersey," Pflaum said.

Pflaum campaigned for Lautenberg and said his wisdom and experience are an important aspect of his position, and he will be good for New Jersey.

"Like a bottle of wine he gets finer with age in my opinion," Pflaum said.

Eric McNabb, the treasurer of the RU Democrats, said Lautenberg's speech was inspirational and captured what all Democrats were feeling that night.

"It's a very proud moment because of course we're going to win this election by a lot," McNabb said. "It's really good to see change in the country because the past eight years have been pretty bad."

Heather Brookhart

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